Michael Herzog, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, told CBS’s Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation” Sunday that hostage negotiations in Israel have so far failed because “Hamas is playing for time, because Hamas is trying to stop our military efforts.”
He added, “And I think the more pressure we put on them, the more chances there are that they may agree to release hostages.”
It’s believed that Hamas currently holds approximately 240 hostages in Gaza. Relatives of those taken hostage on Oct. 7 have repeatedly called on the Israeli government and governments around the world to do more to ensure the prisoners’ safety and freedom.
Herzog said that Israel is prepared to negotiate a hostage release, but only when they feel Hamas is ready. He explained, “When we see that they are serious about it, then we’re all in. Nobody has to urge us. Most of the kidnapped are Israelis and our government is responsible to the families. So nobody has to urge us on this.”
Numerous reports out of Gaza indicate at least 9,000 have been killed in the Gaza Strip since Israel began airstrikes. When asked about the thousands of Palestinians who have been reported dead, Herzog said, “I would be very careful, very careful about judging those numbers. Because neither you nor I know how many of them are armed terrorists and how many of them are civilians. I don’t know. And you don’t know.”
“So let’s be very careful about that because I don’t know how many of them are terrorists, and I want to– our military says that it kills numerous terrorists in armed clashes. So let’s be very careful about that,” he added.
The ambassador also told Brennan that it’s not possible for Israel to know when the war will be deemed a “success.” As he said, “Now, we are not going to put a timeframe on this war. We did not start this war. We don’t– We did not want this war. But we cannot stop before we dismantle the terror machine, or else as I said, they’ll strike again and again.”
Herzog added, “And we have to make sure that when this ends, they are unable to strike again the way they did on October 7th.”
On Saturday, people around the world participated in dozens of rallies calling for the release of the hostages. Some family members of those taken captive believe Israel should meet Hamas’ demand of releasing all Palestinians currently imprisoned in the country.
What an amazing boost of hope: hundreds of Jewish and Arab-Palestinian citizens gathered together in Haifa, a Jewish-Arab city in Israel, to send a clear message for partnership and for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
We have a peace movement in Israel: @omdimbeyachad pic.twitter.com/eBZfvdba6f
— Alon-Lee Green – ألون-لي جرين – אלון-לי גרין
(@AlonLeeGreen) November 4, 2023
Watch the interview with Herzog in the video above.
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